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Hitting lowlight: Rick Schu hasn't seen the Nationals much this season because he's been busy coaching minor leaguers. What the new hitting coach saw tonight, though, should give him a good idea of what he has to work with this bunch, which for all its talent has become one of baseball's least-productive (and most-predictable) lineups. The Nats didn't really mount any kind of challenge tonight. Granted, Cole is an elite pitching prospect, the No. 1 draft pick in the country only two years ago. But the rookie right-hander mowed through this lineup without so much as breaking a sweat, allowing two hits (Bryce Harper's leadoff single in the first, Ramos' solo homer in the third) and a walk over seven sterling innings. The Nationals had only three at-bats with runners in scoring position. They of course went 0-for-3, leaving them an astounding 6 for their last 78 in that department.
Pitching highlight: Say this about Jordan: He's getting better and better with each start he makes at this level. And tonight was the culmination of that progress, resulting in eight standout innings from the rookie right-hander. Though he surrendered three runs in top of the second, he easily could have escaped without any damage with just a little bit of help from his defense. Anthony Rendon's error trying to turn a tailor-made 5-4-3 double play prolonged the inning, though it led to only one unearned run. Jordan cruised after that, pitching efficiently and using his sinker to get groundball outs. He not only got an opportunity to pitch the seventh inning for the first time but was back out there for the eighth. He nearly got through that frame as well, but then served up a two-out homer to Pedro Alvarez followed by a single to Russell Martin. The rookie departed after that, given a standing ovation from a crowd that appreciates what the kid has done.
Key stat: The Nationals have thrown out only nine of 73 basestealers this season, a 12 percent rate that ranks last in the majors by seven percentage points.
Up next: Stephen Strasburg and Francisco Liriano meet in a strong pitchers' duel on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. Strasburg is 5-7 with a 2.97 ERA, while Liriano has enjoyed a big comeback season for Pittsburgh, going 9-4 with a 2.44 ERA.